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Edelman Disinformation

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Ed Williams speaks at the Land Warfare Conference. June 2019.

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Edelman Disinformation

  1. 1. Edelman Disinformation & Trust
  2. 2. 2 Percent trust in each organisation BRITISH MILITARY MORE TRUSTED THAN THE UK GOVERNMENT 60% 46% 34% 28% 9% 9% The British Military NATO The British Government The US Military The Chinese Military The Russian Military Q1: How much do you trust each of the following to do what is right? [Top 4 Box, Trust] Base UK: General Population (n=1,000) Picture Credit: Licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0 Trust (60-100) Neutral (50-59) Distrust (1-49)
  3. 3. 3 Q2: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements? Base UK: General Population (n=1,000) THE PUBLIC KNOW THAT IT IS NOT ALWAYS POSSIBLE TO BE TOTALLY HONEST 54% say that sometimes it's better to keep something from someone in order to protect them 52% 52% 42% 31% 30% 30% 26% 26% 25% 24% 24% If a secret mission is happening to address a foreign threat If it's to protect the UK's national security To prevent panic in the UK If our military is supporting another country on their internal security issues If the country is at war If there is a threat of a terrorist attack If there is a hostile government threatening our country If a terrorist attack has recently happened If we are being threatened by another democracy If we are being threatened by a dictatorship If the country is on the brink of war Q5: In each of the following situations, how acceptable is it for the government or a government department to not be completely honest with the public (i.e. to withhold information, or put out information that is not 100% accurate)? [Top 4 Box, Acceptable] Base UK: General Population (n=1,000) NATIONAL SECURITY AND SECRET MISSIONS ARE THE MOST ACCEPTABLE CONTEXTS FOR DISHONESTY
  4. 4. CHANNEL HAS NO IMPACT ON THE ACCEPTABILITY OF MISINFORMATION, BUT SPOKESPERSON CHOICE DOES 4 17% 17% 17% 16% 16% 16% Official Twitter or Facebook accounts On the radio Through the BBC Through private broadcasters (e.g. Sky, ITV, etc.) Through newspapers Fake Twitter or Facebook accounts 18% 14% 14% 13% 12% 11% A military official (e.g. a General, an Officer, etc.) A scientific expert speaking on behalf of the government The Prime Minister A civil servant A government minister An MP Q8: And how acceptable would it be for the military to share misleading or intentionally inaccurate information in each of the following places? [Top 4 Box, Acceptable] Q6: How acceptable is it for each of the following types of individuals to not be completely honest with the public (i.e. to withhold information, or put out information that is not 100% accurate)? [Top 4 Box, Acceptable] Base UK: General Population (n=1,000) Percent who feel it is acceptable for the military to share misleading information on each of the following channels Percent who feel it is acceptable for each of the following spokespeople to not be completely honest
  5. 5. DECEIVING THE PUBLIC IMPACTS PEOPLE’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GOVERNMENT & HAS WIDER SOCIETAL FALLOUT 5 Q9: What impact does the government concealing information or deceiving the public have? Base UK: General Population (n=1,000) 74% It decreases their trust in the government 66% It makes people wonder what else the government is hiding from the public 38% It makes society more divided 36% It makes people more likely to take part in protests or civil disobedience
  6. 6. COMING CLEAN AND CONTEXTUALISING THE DECEPTION CAN MAKE IT MORE ACCEPTABLE 6 Q10: And if the government was to come clean and tell the truth after deceiving the public about something related to the military or national security, what impact would that have on how you feel about the deception? [Top 2 box, More acceptable] Q11: And if the government was to come clean and tell the truth after deceiving the public about something related to the military or national security, what impact would that have on how much you trust the government? [Top 2 box, Trust more] Base UK: General Population (n=1,000) Picture Credit: Richard Watt/MOD, OGL v1.0, 4 March 2016 55% Say if the government comes clean, it makes the deception more acceptable 38% Say if the government comes clean, they would trust the government more
  7. 7. 7 Q14: Deception (i.e. to withhold information or put out information that is not 100% accurate) can be used by the military to mitigate gaps in terms of capabilities or numbers in conflict situations. Thinking about this, which of the following statements do you agree with more? Base UK: General Population (n=1,000) THE PUBLIC FAVOUR INCREASED MILITARY SPENDING OVER DECEPTION “I would prefer the military got more funding and rarely had to use deception tactics” 73%

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